Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced earlier this week February 24 through 29 will be Opioid Use Disorder Awareness Week.
Whitmer cited continued high numbers of opioid-related deaths and increasing rates of infants born with drug exposure as part of the reason for the declaration.
State resources say that Michigan saw nearly 2,600 deaths from drug overdoses in 2018, with 2,036 related to opioid overdoses. Although these numbers were down from 2017, they were still more than double the number from five years earlier, according to Whitmer’s office.
The state also saw 1,556 deaths from synthetic narcotic overdoses, including fentanyl, and 639 deaths from heroin overdoses.
Additionally, the number of infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in 2017 was 932, up from 863 in 2016.
Whitmer’s declaration comes a little more than a month after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced it would award $17.5 million in grant funds from the State Opioid Response Grant to fight the opioid epidemic.
“We cannot tackle this epidemic alone,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy director for health in a statement at the announcement. “Providing communities and medical providers with tools and resources to fight this crisis is critical to our efforts to end this public health crisis.”
The funds will be used for support services for people most at-risk for overdose and will include offering medications to treat opioid use disorder in jails, mobile care units, and expansion of syringe service programs.
The grant is in support of Whitmer’s goal to cut opioid deaths in half within five years.
“This epidemic is hurting families in every community in our state and we need to use every tool in the toolbox to address it,” Whitmer said in a statement during the grant announcement. “These efforts will help move us closer to our goal of cutting the number of opioid deaths in half in five years.”
– – –
Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]